Monday, March 18, 2019

Books: Kobe Bryant's "The Wizenard Series"

The Wizenard Series: Training Camp
Created by Kobe Bryant & written by Wesley King
Granity Studios; hardcover, 592 pages; $18.99; available tomorrow, Tuesday, March 19

Kobe Bryant made his name on the basketball court for 20 years, winning five world championships for the Los Angeles Lakers and becoming one of the greatest players in NBA history.

In his post-basketball life, he is establishing himself as a storyteller, from the Academy Award–winning documentary "Dear Basketball" to his books, which now included the young-adult novel The Wizenard Series.

This is a radically original portrait of five young basketball players, one enlightening coach, and the awesome transformative power of the game of basketball.

Most of Kobe's projects involve the mental side of sports, and this is no exception. The Wizenard Series is filled with insights about the mental stamina and emotional clarity that peak performance requires, this is an indispensable story for young athletes, coaches, educators, and anyone interested in the astonishing potential of team sports to unlock individual growth.

"I created The Wizenard Series to help ignite the imaginations of young athletes around a topic they love - sports," says Kobe. "It's the book I wish had been available to me as a young basketball player. I hope you love reading it, just as much as I loved creating it."

Kobe Bryant. Photo by Jason Schott.

Magic doesn’t seem possible for the West Bottom Badgers. They’re the lowest-ranked basketball team in their league, and they live in the poorest neighborhood in Dren. Nobody expects them to succeed at anything. Plus, every kid on the team has secret struggles of his own.

When a new coach named Professor Wizenard arrives on the first day of training camp, the Badgers can’t explain the magical-seeming things they see and hear. His magical coaching techniques cover offense, defense, individual strengths and weaknesses, and physical conditioning. Through basketball, he shows his players that working at each of these will not only make them stronger physically, but also mentally and emotionally.

There are proverbs from Wizenard throughout the book, including "The Past is a gift. It Reminds you there is a future" and "Give your fear a face or you will see it everywhere."

The Badgers players - Rain, Twig, Cash, Lab, and Peño - each have their own story, their own challenges, and their own fears. Over the course of a two-week basketball camp, we get to know each character and their struggles, where they've come from, and where they are going.

Every player experiences unique and strange visions―visions that challenge everything they thought they knew about basketball, and about their lives and their secrets off the court. To survive the increasingly intense ordeals of training, the Badgers will need to take unimaginable risks, learn to trust their teammates, and confront the darkness within themselves.

Each story teaches readers empathy, the understanding that there are multiple sides to every story, and that accepting our differences will help us become better friends as well as better athletes.

This entertaining read is an incredible production from the mind of one of the most magical basketball players ever.

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